Soft Hackles | A Fly for the Ages

When you ask an angler to mention a fly that has stood the test of time, Soft Hackles will not miss in the list.  It is even referred to as the fly for the ages, because of the usefulness it has portrayed for years.

What makes them more effective? What makes them the number one choice for many anglers? Well, many features make it the best. This is why I have written this article to show you more about it.

Soft Hackle | History of This Simple Fly

The soft hackles are one of the oldest fish flies to ever be used. They are believed to have been invented many years back. Even though their tangible usage was around the 1800s. 

They were developed by a group of fishermen from the northern parts of England.

They were motivated by the desire to get convenient flies to fish along the freestone streams. This was after many failed attempts of the already existing flies. This is why sometimes they are referred to as the North Country flies in honor of these fishermen.

Their usage across Europe and other parts of the world spread very fast. This was as a result of its preference by many anglers and fishermen. Mainly it was used for fishing activity, but later it was discovered to be great for fly fishing sport. 

Some years later its usage dropped. This was because of the dry fly revolution, which saw a decline in the use of wet flies like soft hackles. 

What Exactly Is A Soft Hackle?

A soft hackle is a feather-like fly that is used to lure trout, usually knotted to a wire, thread, or a feather fiber. They are used because they are easily manipulated by anglers and wiggle easily in water. 

Its design resembles many insects and that is why many fish are lured by it.

The fly is not only liked for its similarity to many bugs, but also because it looks like a living bug in the water. They are used in most scenarios of matching the hatch.

I like them because they exhibit a similar appearance to the natural flies.

Soft hackles are known to have capabilities of being fished in various ways. You can cast it upstream, make a down or across swing and the dead wafted undertrick indicator. 

The method that I like when using a soft hackle is the drift and lift.

Key Features of Soft Hackle

  • It can be fished in many different ways to offer convenience
  • Soft hackles imitate very many insects found in the river/ stream
  • The soft hackles are simple and easy to fish
  • It features a larger water coverage area
  • You will realize it has a long feather that requires little effort

Why Fish With a Soft Hackle

I know of very many reasons why you should use soft hackles. There is quite a number. 

Nevertheless, here we are only going to look at the top 6 reasons why you should fish with it. 

1. Simplistic Approach

One thing I like about this hackling technique is that it is simple to implement. This is because it does not require any complex equipment. You only need the basic ones. 

The normal fly rod is enough provided you, master, how to present the fly to the fish. As I insist you should make it as natural as possible. The good thing is that the fly is similar to many insects. Therefore it will attract fish within a short span.

2. Beginner Friendly

When you are a beginner there is usually the mood of confusion. This is the case that happens in fly fishing. If you are not prepared with the right equipment, it is inconvenient. 

This is why you need to carry tools like a soft hackle. This fly makes it easier to get hold of the target. You don’t have to go through the huge processes of learning. All you need is to focus on the target. Within no time you will have gained a lot.

3. Easy to Control The Fly

The featured feather fiber present in the fly usually moves with great ease. This is because of its streamline feature. Thus, with a little manipulation, the fly can move a longer distance. 

When you have these controls you can monitor fish behavior and make a move. This increases your chances of landing a point where the fish are.

4. Fun to Use

Nobody likes doing something boring. It is always the desire of people to enjoy what they do. But as many say you are the one to make it enjoyable. As an angler one of the priorities to have fun is to choose the right fly. With several years of research, I have found out that using these hackling methods is fun. 

This is because you will focus without caring for the fly.

5. Covers More Water Surfaces

With the soft hackle, you will realize that it covers a large area. If you are an angler or a fisherman you can increase your target area when you use these fly. 

You do this by slowly swinging the fly across the stream. In the process, you will cover quite a good size. Besides, the fly is easily visible, and therefore, it can be sported by the fish from far.

6. Fishing with Soft Hackle Offers Flexibility

The reason I’m saying it is flexible is that you can move the fly around. Unlike those heavy flies which take a lot of effort to change the position. This one wiggle easily. 

Moreover, it offers flexibility in that you can use the fly for both deep and shallow streams and rivers. This is convenient because you will not have to visit the stores when you go from shallow to deep parts.

6 Tips to Help Tie a Soft Hackle Fly

1. Prepare Materials

Before you start making ties ensure you correct all the materials needed.  This will save you a lot of time looking for them when you get started. The choice of the number of materials to look for will depend on the number of flies you want to make. Then shape and cut these materials to suit the length and sixes required. Also, look for a pair of scissors.

2. Use Soft Feathers

When tying the soft hackle fly always use soft feathers. Soft feathers soak easily in water. Due to this, they will be convenient for casting longer and deep distances. Moreover, when wet soft feathers imitate the aquatic insects better.

3. Use Bright Colors

For purposes of your vision use bright colors. This will help you monitor the fly effectively. For purposes of attracting the fish, use bright colors associated with the insects, it feeds on. This will cause a point of attraction to the fish.

4. Use an Appropriate Length of Line

When making a tie on the soft hackle use the appropriate length of the line. This will depend on the depth and the volume of water in the stream. For cases where the volume of water is low and the depth is shallow, use a short line. If the volumes of water are high and the death is deep, use a long lone.

5. Organize the Materials

Assemble all the materials needed and start placing them together one by one. Let the first fly you make be a reference for the rest of the production you will be doing. Therefore, be careful when making the first fly. In case the stream or river you are targeting has different patterns. Try making different samples of flies.

6. Avoid Trimming Feathers

I have to advise you to avoid over trimming the feathers. If possible avoid these. The reason is that you may affect their effectiveness when cast in water. Remember, we want them to imitate bugs and insects which are usually feathery.

Final Thoughts

Indeed the soft hackle is a fly for the ages, and its usefulness to anglers and fishermen cannot be underestimated. It is a fly I advise you to use whenever you are wet fly fishing. 

It is recorded by many and offers very good services. With this fly, you will be able to catch more fish.

Related Questions

How do you fish a soft hackle?

Take the soft hackle and attach it to a wire, thread, or a feather fiber. Then using a rod cast the fish fly into the stream and move it conveniently for better yields. When it is wet trout mistake it for insects.

What does a wet fly imitate? 

The fly imitates bugs and insects in the water. This is especially when submerges in the water. This makes it look like a living bug in the water. As a result chances are that the fish will confuse the fly for food.

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